Expats in Costa Rica: Learning a New Language - HRG Costa Rica Vacations
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Expats in Costa Rica: Learning a New Language

Spanish is spoken

One of the biggest challenges of living in a new country is adapting to and learning a new language. Trying to make your way in a place where no one can understand you can certainly be daunting, so the faster you learn, the better. Here are our tips for learning a new language quickly and efficiently.

Identify the phrases you will need/use most often

Whether it’s greeting people, asking for directions, or finding ingredients in a supermarket, there are some conversational phrases that are going to come up over and over again as you go about your day-to-day life. If you can figure out and then learn the ones that are most essential, you will be able to navigate much better. Learning the rest can come later.

Invest in a learning program

There are many different language programs available. Some focus on conversational aspects of language, while others take a more holistic approach. Some provide auditory instruction, while others use a system of pictures and words. If you take time to research, you are sure to find one that is suited to your needs and your particular learning style. Rosetta Stone is known to be one of the best options: It works quickly; it focuses on vocabulary, conversational language, and the language as a whole; and it places special emphasis on pronunciation.

Immerse yourself

Full immersion has been proven as one of the best techniques for learning a language quickly. As opposed to formal lessons, where you must commit words to memory and then ask your brain to try to assemble them into language, using a new language “in the moment” forces your brain to actively retain the information and use it immediately in context.

Just as when you were an infant learning your first language, struggling to understand others and have them understand you will help you imprint the new words far more firmly in your mind than formal learning ever could. Some experts believe that those who practice immersion can learn a language in as few as 10 days. While you may not learn that quickly, you will learn faster than you ever believed you could.

Let go of your inhibitions

You cannot be shy and learn a new language. You must be willing to try to speak it, however clumsily, if you want to progress quickly. So let go. It’s okay to mess up – you are learning. The locals may chuckle a bit at your expense, but they will also be honored that you are trying to learn, and likely very willing to help.

Practice, practice, practice

There is no substitute for practice. If you learn a new language but don’t use it frequently, you won’t progress. It is also important to practice with native speakers; they can help you when you stumble, and you will unconsciously pick up the inflections, vocabulary and colloquialisms that will eventually have you sounding like a native speaker.

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